What happens when five guys go on a road trip from Nashville to Indianapolis? Before you answer, allow me to give you a little more information about the group and trip.
1. Three generations of men are represented on this trip.
2. The oldest member of the group is a 65 year old, retired missionary. (That fact alone will probably seriously alter your guess as to what sort of shenanigans were involved.)
3. The youngest member of the group turned 13 on the second day of the trip.
4. The other three participants in this adventure are brothers, ranging in age from 34 to 41.
5. The trip is a rite of passage for the youngest member. A trip to commemorate his 13th birthday. A trip as one of the men of the family.
So let me ask again: What happens when these five guys go on a road trip? If you were hoping for a crazy tale of intoxication, reckless behavior, and loose women…you are out of luck. By the way, if you were hoping for that type of story, you need to repent. Though, there was that one night that four of us stayed up until midnight watching college basketball. Pretty reckless if you ask me. And I’m sure there were loose women in Indy. We just didn’t interact with any of them. My dad did tell me a story about a time when he was in college. He was headed back home on a bus for summer break, when a flirty young lady (going by the name “Kitten”) approached him and his friend, and in not very subtle ways, expressed her…interest…in them. Being the man of integrity that he is and has always been, my dad and his friend told her to buzz off. So, there was a loose woman. She just made her appearance 40+ years ago. By the way, take time to listen to the life stories of your elders. Talk to your dad, mom, grandparents. You might learn some pretty interesting things about them. Do not put off these conversations for another time. You never know when you will have a better opportunity. I had the great fortune to spend five hours in the car with my dad on the way to Indy and was able to hear some stories about his college years that I had never heard before.
This is not some “blow you away with how great everything was” story. Nothing earth-shattering happened. No readily apparent, life-changing moment occurred. From the outside-looking-in, this trip might look very tame, and even boring to some. My point in sharing this story is not to entertain you. So, maybe what happened is not the right question. Perhaps, the “why” of the trip is more important than the “what.”
Let me clear up a few things, if they were not clear already. This was a birthday trip for my son, Aidan. He is the first grandson in our family to turn 13. My wife and I felt this was something we needed to celebrate, something special. That was the genesis of the trip. We wanted to do something memorable for Aidan as he took his first steps into manhood. So, a Lytle men road trip it was. I wanted my dad and brothers to be a part of this because they have wisdom and experience to share with Aidan. Plus, he was bound to have a good time hanging out with them.
As Aidan’s father, I can teach and model the kind of character traits I want to see in him. And I do these things the best that I can. My reach is limited though. My influence is finite. For Aidan to become the man that God wants him to be, he needs more than me. This is not self-deprecation or false humility. I know the kind of father I am. I believe I am fullfilling my paternal role the best that I can. So don’t take this the wrong way and feel like I am fishing for sympathy or pats on the back. This is not about me. It is about Aidan and the best way to show him what it means to be a man.
The men in my family, my two brothers and my father, can teach things to my sons that I simply cannot. They have skills, talents, gifts, and experiences that I do not share. Of course I want to expose my son to those things. I also want Aidan to form a bond with all three of them. There will be times in his life when it will be easier for him to talk to them instead of me. There will be times when he will face something that I have never faced, but they have. There will be moments when I do not have an answer, but they will. This should not be threatening to me as a father. It’s not. It is liberating.
My younger brother, David, can teach Aidan how to have fun, anytime, anywhere. He can show Aidan that it is ok to make fun of yourself, something I have never been good at. He can teach my son that laughing at life and facing every moment with joy and a spirit devoid of fear is a wonderful and inspiring thing. He can teach Aidan that even in the worst times you can still hold firm to the faith of your childhood. When pain and sorrow threaten to drown you, my brother can tell Aidan that this is not the end. We have a hope that transcends death, life, and everything in between.
My older brother, Mike, can teach Aidan how to always be ready with a great joke. He can show Aidan how to manage the peculiar personality traits that are found in firstborn children. Aidan shares more in common with Mike than he does with me in many respects. Mike can teach him how to be a natural leader, but not use that as a tool to get what he wants. He can show him the value of hard work, while realizing that there is more value in a career where you can be happy and at peace than in a big paycheck. He can model a Christ-like ability to get along with everyone he meets. He can tell Aidan that planning is important, but being willing to serve in whatever capacity is more important.
My father, Steve, can teach Aidan how to be a voracious student of the Word. If you spend a few hours with my father, you will see him read his Bible. My father can teach Aidan how to treat everyone with love and respect. He can show Aidan how it’s okay for a man to say “I love you” to his grown sons. Just as it is okay to hug them. My father can teach Aidan to be open to go anywhere God leads, even if that means leaving your family and your home behind. He can model faithfulness to the Kingdom better than anyone Aidan could read about in a book.
Those are just a small part of why I wanted Aidan to go on this trip with his uncles and grandfather. As you can see, the particulars of the trip were much less important to me than the intangibles. But, I did ask a question at the outset of this article, and I would be remiss if I did not answer it.
We left Nashville a little after noon and headed to Indianapolis. The drive there was mostly uneventful. Lots of construction, lots of traffic, and one truck that was on fire on the side of the road. We stopped about 30 minutes outside of Indy to get supper at Five Guys – Aidan’s favorite place to eat. He devoured his burger. The rest of us finished a few minutes later and then got back on the road.
We arrived at the accommodations I had reserved through airbnb. (Fantastic service, by the way. They are not paying me to say this. It was truly great.) Our house had two bedrooms, a kitchen, a living room, a small dining room, and one bathroom. We watched college basketball until much too late.
We went to a college sports museum the next morning, ate at a great little Mexican place near our house for lunch, and then hung out at the house until that evening when we headed downtown for an NBA game. We watched the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the home team, the Pacers, in an exciting game. We were joined for the game by a good friend who lives near Indy. He was the only one in our group rooting for the home team. We got back home that night just in time to watch a few more college basketball games before bed. We headed back to Nashville the next morning.
See. Nothing groundbreaking. Nothing that demands a story to be written about it. It was a good trip. A fun time with my brothers, my dad, and my son. The point of the trip wasn’t how cool it was. It was a chance for my son, who is so quickly approaching adulthood, to get a chance to interact with and be around men of character and integrity. Men who can teach him how to be a Godly man, a man that puts his faith first, above everything else. But men who can teach him those things while still having fun, eating burgers, watching basketball, snoring too loud in their sleep, and making each other laugh. And if that was the goal of this trip, consider it a success.
What happens when five guys go on a road trip from Nashville to Indianapolis? Not much…and everything.